Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Worst Job

While oil field electrician is the most lucrative job I've had it comes at a price. I love being outdoors but when it is 9 degrees then I usually don't rush outside to work on a transmission or repair an old cassette deck under a tarp...and when it's 115 degrees my first thought in the morning is not to move hundreds of feet of 4'' rigid conduit into a trench. But that's the job and it will never change. The strong survive and the weak get desk jobs or select window trim colors for the elite snobs in usurped seaside mansions. And the Battle Harbor naturalist gig was the best job but only paid in meals and a bed. So, I pondered, what was the worst job ever? It wasn't hand digging a trench in Santa Monica for a CVS parking lot drainage pipe and then finding a $75 parking ticket on my car that was double my daily pay. No, that's standard Los Angeles bullshit. And it wasn't driving to a Kmart in Compton to assemble shitty Chinese bicycles in a dusty attic while my van gets broken into. I actually like bicycles so even though I refused to even turn in paper work for that day, basically working for free to give my possessions to the thieves of Compton, that wasn't the worst. It wasn't even the inventory job I had at the Ford Dealership because I learned the coding key for all the parts on my van. And while tearing covers off of classic novels and pornography scheduled for destruction by shredding was not challenging, I did take many copies of Barely Legal magazine home for personal investigation and intellectual refinement. No, the worst job, the most depressing job that made me grimace with agony and self loathing every time I clocked in was at Artisan Outlet shipping warehouse.

This is the kind of job that every Eisenhower era, buzz cut, button down asshole will flex his jaw muscles and say, "It teaches responsibility." or some such bullshit that the government propagandized in 1957 to implement their totally withering attack on the sovereignty of Americans, to accompany their mindless industrialized build up to the Vietnam War. A populace who didn't question authority was required for the new world order to take control and television provided the means for mass hypnotism. Consumption required mindless robot jobs like the one at the warehouse and while most people will arrogantly and smugly notify me, like I am a complete asshole, that jobs like that are good because they teach me to work hard to improve my life and become a child psychologist or event planner, I skeptically looked at it differently: jobs like that ought not exist because they are dehumanizing and frivolous. These workers are not support staff for the elite, the homeless are not tangible reminders to stay off drugs; such viewpoints are grotesquely self centered but I heard them every day from otherwise smart people. The Poor are cues of social degradation and if you ignore the cues then you're irresponsible, but if you deny the fact they are cues then you are something much worse. And if you actually go out of your way to contradict and scorn someone who advocates social change, who is poor and works with the poor daily, then you are in league with evil. It's an unforgivable reproach.

The Artisan Outlet job was back in the era when Oggy was living purely to explore America and experience what Kerouac had written about...but in the 1990s and without the drugs and alcohol and loose women. I needed a little bit of money for grilled cheese sandwiches and books but otherwise lived a carefree existence revolving around my bicycle and Jean Paul Sartre.

The job isn't much different than any warehouse job I've had, mindless sorting and counting, a byproduct of a capitalist culture of robotic labor allowing for the least amount of reflection and counter-productive revolutionary rebellion. But the culture of defeat in that warehouse was the worst...worse than cotton picking or berry picking or planting trees or baking aluminum heat sinks. We picked hair scrunchies for countless Hot Topic teen slut stores across New England. The variety and design of hair scrunchies would amaze you...and the dedication to counting and bundling these hair scrunchies was something to witness. I was indifferent to our objective because I saw the naked and humiliating uselessness in our endeavor. My job from 7:30 am to 5PM was to walk around this huge concrete room with rows and rows of boxes containing hair scrunchies and fill orders for different stores....but my covert motive was to study the culture and incite rebellion, to crush the overlord, to liberate the be-trodden.
Important: If the order calls for 1 checkerboard scrunchie then you pick 1 checkerboard scrunchie.
This job, instead of making me want to improve my life, go to college and become as much of a snob as those assholes whose flabby jowls blew in the hot air from their asshole every time they haughtily scorned order pickers as "Untouchable" "Stupid" "Dumb" "Unambitious" etc, actually made me see the juxtaposition of economic classes and the required demeaning attitude toward the lowly wage slave in grey servitude with arms full of colorful rubber hair accessories. The snobby degree holders were not the solution, but the blatant problem. One woman, possibly 50 years old with a stooped back and shin splints, pale skin and white hair, took the job because it was close to her farm where she rode horses. Her horses were her passion and the job paid some bills and gave her time with her horses. When someone with a college education described my coworkers as "dirt" or "unmotivated" or "unambitious" I knew I was dealing with the thumb that oppresses the masses.

As I wandered the aisles looking for a neon pink, silk and cotton blend hair scrunchie, I didn't think about how I alone could escape the drudgery because that kind of selfish and generic thought process would align me with the benumbed cunts whose college degrees were framed with vain insolence and dramatic self aggrandizing for their own egos to shine back in the mirror of their lustful narcissism. No, I then began my planning to free everyone from this kind of ludicrous servitude. Because that's the way I think. I already know that I can improve my own life, I can fuck and have babies and throw them to the wolves of consumerism and merchandized assignment and collateral damage, exploit the young, work the system, pollute the earth, but there must be a way for these kinds of jobs to be forever eliminated from the world. Women in China squat over fires to boil sulfuric acid to dissolve the microchips and gold out of circuit boards from broken Gameboys. Obviously I don't want that job but is it a giant leap to try to make a world where the Chinese woman doesn't do that job either? According to most of the college degree holders I know, yes, it is a giant and hopeless leap.
Because your iphone is that important.

The Breaking Point: I was told that occasionally there were "rush orders" and that when these rush orders arrived I was supposed to leap into action, downshift my gears and actually run from one box to another. I sort of thought they were joking because already the indignity of walking in a leisurely manner from one box of scrunchies to another was more than I could bear, but indeed a rush order was announced and my eyes widened as the other pickers all started to run from one box to another, bumping into one another in a frenzy like ants whose nest has been set on fire. I had a minor mental breakdown as the hopelessness of convincing my fellow laborers of the insanity they were obeying became clear to me. They had been assimilated into the warehouse mentality and the big picture of life and liberty was now completely obscured by corporate authority, the directive to gather hair scrunchies was all consuming. "Tell me about your horses," I asked the lady and she didn't respond as the quest for green striped cotton scrunchies was all demanding. I needed the money but not so bad that I would run to pick up two floral pattern hair scrunchies, like I was in the military. So I dejectedly clocked out and got on my bicycle to ride to the beach and watch the waves crash on the rocks near a jetty. Clouds evaporated on their way toward a lighthouse, seagulls glided in the breeze, mariners tacked toward a faraway island. I didn't eat that day as the final check would not arrive for another week. The temp agency reprimanded me for leaving without permission. The general consensus was that I was unfit to hold down a decent job and had quit a "low paying, but honest" career. I was worthless and pathetic and would be lucky to get a job washing cars. I read my Descartes and Kant treatises but found no protocol for my peril.
Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.